Social Question

Carly's avatar

Have you ever predicted the future by seeing it in a dream first?

Asked by Carly (4550points) April 17th, 2011

This happened to me yesterday, and it’s happened a few times before. For example, two nights ago I dreamed I just barely passed my science exam by one point. The next day I got the test back and it was exactly that!

I’ve also had dreams that have unfortunately predicted family members passing away (not violently), and within a few weeks their death was very surprising to the rest of my family. Actually, it was really surprising to me too, since I felt I saw it in my dream, but you know what I’m saying.

Has anything like this happened to you? Does anyone have a theory as to why/how it happens??

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45 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’ve had that happen a few times for very minor things, in my case it’s always been more amusing than anything else.
Prepare yourself for a bunch of people with absolute statements about “coincidence” and “confirmation bias”, a lot of Jellies tend to strongly express their views that stuff like this is impossible.

lookingglassx3's avatar

I’ve had this a few times before. It’s only been small stuff, nothing that’s really got me thinking before. Are you religious? I am and when dreams-coming-true or wishes-coming-true has happened to me, I’ve linked it to my religious beliefs. But that’s just my opinion. I do believe in this kind of thing, though there is a chance that it could just be coincidence. Were you were nervous about your test score? If so, then that could result in the dream, as your brain stores the knowledge of your nerves and causes you to dream about it; then, coincidentally, you get the test result you dreamed of. The deaths thing – which I’m very sorry to hear about, by the way – has to be more than coincidence though. Are they all linked? Perhaps there’s a sign you need to look out for!

gmander's avatar

@JilltheTooth – Improbable, yes. Impossible, no. Making predictions that end up happening doesn’t violate any physical laws, indeed science is based on developing theories from which accurate predictions can be made!

Perhaps Carly has some innate ability to make accurate predictions based on, what would seem to others, limited information. Alternately it could just be a statistical anomaly with no causal effect. If you are religious or spiritual, I suppose the temptation is to conclude that the causal effect is related to those beliefs but that wouldn’t work for me as there would be no experimental validation that could be applied. I’d be inclined to leave it at ‘sometimes s*** happens’.

roundsquare's avatar

@gmander “indeed science is based on developing theories from which accurate predictions can be made!”

Yes, thats true, but not in the same way as a dream predicts the future (if it does). Science is based on saying “when X happens, Y happens” over and over again until you find a way to connect the two. Just plain prediction is not science (though many things are not science and are completely valid).

That being said, my instinct is to call it a statistical anomaly, but I don’t have anywhere near the necessary data to be sure.

gmander's avatar

@roundsquare – my point was, assuming that someone’s dreams are indeed predicting the future and you don’t know why, then perhaps there is a scientific theory that explains it. Also, perhaps not. I don’t know the answer to that.

You seem to be prejudging this be explicitly deciding that there is no scientific explanation of a causal effect between dreaming of an outcome and that outcome occurring. I wouldn’t be so rash as to jump to that conclusion yet, but there’s no compelling evidence that a causal relationship does exist either.

Perhaps I should apply for a grant…

Joker94's avatar

I’ve got no theories as to how it happens, but similar things have happened to me. Story time!

It’s only in the vein of what you said, so you know, but I had a dream where I had sex with my best girl friend. And not too long after, she had a dream where she had sex with me.

And then we made out one day. That’s about the extent of it. More of a weird coincidence I guess

dabbler's avatar

my answer to a similar question :
I have had lots of precognitive dreams, nearly all utterly mundane yet also quite clearly moments that happen in the future just as they did in the dream. Several seconds of slice-o-life from a dream play out just like it did in my dream weeks or months previously all details precise. I used to write my dreams as much as I could remember and though I could never tell what bits of my dreams would pop up later I could go back to the notebook and read them after those did.
I can’t explain it at all but I’m convinced.
One notorious exception to the banality among my precognitive dream experiences happened in ‘87 when I was shopping for my first home to own. To make the down payment I knew I had to sell all of a tech stock but had been pondering for some time when to sell it. In general my track record in the stock market is haphazard and I didn’t have any sense what “exit indicator” to trust. Just before I woke one late April morning I had a very vivid dream scene of reading the newspaper on July 7 and being happy that I had sold the stock the previous day.
The price of the stock in April was around 30. By 4th July it had edged into the high 30s. On the sixth I called the broker (a market maker in the stock, they track it closely) as the stock pushed past 40 and asked what they thought of the price and where it was headed. The broker said they really didn’t know why it was up as much as it was that day. I asked the current price and it had reached 41–½ and I sold. That turned out to be the high for the day and it didn’t reach that price again for another year and a half.
Later in ‘87 I found a marvellous place and still live here. And I haven’t had a single dream about stocks since…
the only “explanation” that I like has to do with multi-dimensional string theory. Time as we experience it is like a string with subsequent moments adjacent on the string. If the string is wound into a ball or is in a heap there will be points where “now” is adjacent contacting another point in time, so some aspects of the other moment are accessible.
Beats me what’s the explanation for how is the future already resolved on the string ahead of us. But this idea hassome appeal as a metaphor.
On the other hand dreams can say a lot of sorts of things to you and most of the time they are. Ref family members you may be imagining the possibilities in your dream in concern about knowing a relative could die and it’s just a good guess that you were right.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I’ve had dreams about events which later happened in reality, but I have no reason to think they were anything but coincidences. And had I used those dreams to form beliefs and make predictions, my success would have been based on luck rather than clairvoyance. After all, the number of dreams I’ve had that haven’t come true is still vastly larger than the number of dreams that have come true.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Precognitive dreams are fairly common. I’ve had any number of them myself, but always of inconsequential things, nothing like seeing a winning lottery number. Damn! : (

gmander's avatar

I had a dream once where I awoke from a dream, and later on I did! Whew, that was lucky!

kitkat25's avatar

When I was in my twenties the night before I started a new job I dreamed about my first day at work. The next day when I went to work the day went exactly like I had dreampt it the night before.

flutherother's avatar

Just once that I remember and it was something very trivial but it did feel very odd at the time.

Jaxk's avatar

I’ve never had anything in a dream come true. That’s a track record of 100%. I think that is proof positive that I can predict what won’t happen.

gmander's avatar

@Jaxk – Wow! I didn’t dream that you would say that. Is it possible to develop a psychic inability?

CaptainHarley's avatar


Actually… you still ARE in a dream! : )

gmander's avatar

@CaptainHarley – Oh dear! That’s not good. Since you must be part of this dream too, do you know how it ends?

CaptainHarley's avatar


Yes. But it’s classified information released on a need-to-know basis… and we’ve decided that you don’t need to know!

XOIIO's avatar


I had just gotten a new James Bond video game, and I playes through quite a few levels, but I was stuck on one for a few hours, so I finally went to bed. In my dream it was the exact view of when I was actually playing the game, and I played through it, and at the part I got stuck I did something and beat the level.I then tried it in real life, and it worked!

gondwanalon's avatar

In dreams I’ve achieved high goals such as an A on a chemistry test or running a fast marathon. Later I realized my dreams through a lot of hard work.

MilkyWay's avatar

Yes it happens to me quite a lot of the time.
I have no idea why or how though.

bob_'s avatar

That is not possible.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I wouldn’t call it a prediction probably more like an instinct but yes, I have dreamt stuff that has happened the next day or a couple of days later. It doesn’t happen very often (maybe 3 or 4 times in my whole life) but I hate it when it does happen.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Thanks, @bob_! I knew you’d show up and say that! :-P

bob_'s avatar

@JilltheTooth Well, somebody has to be the voice of reason.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Yeah, voice of reason, that’s what you’re known for….... Sandwich comin’ atcha….

bob_'s avatar

Oh, you don’t have to… I’ll just dream it into existence… * rolls eyes *

roundsquare's avatar

@dabbler String theory, as its currently formed, has more than 4 dimensions (10, 11 or 26 depending on who you ask). 3 of them are what we call space and 1 of them is what we called time. Its the OTHER ones that are wound up in a ball.

Again, I’m not saying you can’t predict the future with dreams (though my instinct is against the possibility I’m trying to keep an open mind) but just saying that if it is possible, string theory probably doesn’t hold the answer as to why.

dabbler's avatar

@roundsquare that’s not contrary to what I stated and you’re correct. The recent work with 11 dims seems to have the least unsolved issues at this point. In the ball-or-heap of string model the degenerate dimensions are wound in a ball bringing what would otherwise be not adjacent moments in our time dimension into contact.
Beats me if that’s really correct but it’s the only “explanation” I’ve seen that makes any rational sense at all to me. I wouldn’t say I believe it but it’s the only idea in the running. And that’s on top of accepting as a premise the highly hypothetical string theory in the first place. There are all sorts of voodoo “explanations” too but darned if any of them make any sense at all. Might as well say the FSM has touched his noodly appendage across two points in time and be done with it.
So if someone’s askin’, what the heck… it’s possible—and I don’t see any other speculation up here about how it happens yet, what’s yours ?
@bob_ “it’s not possible” what’s your proof? or “reason” ? you just don’t believe it’s possible, that’s not a voice of reason that’s superstition. That there are no known scientific explanations I totally agree, but many of us know we’ve had specific irrefutable precognitive dream material. That’s just facts. I don’t have any provable explanation for how it works but it happens.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@dabbler : When @bob_ refuses a sandwich he has lost all reason.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@dabbler No, you have not had specific, irrefutable, precognitive dream material. All you can say you’ve had is a dream or two which featured events later featured in reality. You’ve also had countless dreams with absolutely no correlation to future events, however, and so your insistence that a few coincidences prove something amounts to nothing more than confirmation bias.

Sorry, @JilltheTooth. I held out for as long as I could. But note that I have not as of yet said anything is impossible, only that it is unconfirmed. Still, that must be the in the running for the most commonly linked page on all of Fluther.

bob_'s avatar

Ugh. You guys dream on.

* unfollows *

dabbler's avatar

@SavoirFaire no it’s only clear that’s probably all I can say to you about it.
I have had hundreds of several-second-long dream clips that play out later exactly the way they were in the dream moment per moment detail per detail. It’s not just a dream with a feature or two that coincidentally appear at a time in the future (OMG! a man in a blue car! OMG your sister did buy a new purse!) I know what I’ve had, exactly like a vivid memory in a dream that later just happens like I popped a tape of the dream back in my head. The stuff is so trivial I’d never even think of trying to stage it. As noted in my quips on a few other thread out there about precognitive dreams that with very few exceptions they are all completely trivial but with plenty enough detail and not an aspect out of place. I wouldn’t have any reason to make this up it’s just an observable phenomenon.
Certainly I’ve had way more dreams that predict nothing at all and are even inconceivable in the “real” world and made no claim to the contrary. There’s your confirmation bias and that’s important to have in mind I agree.I’ve stated on other threads that most dream material – mine included- seems to be some kind of sorting out psychological digestive process with no precognitive aspect at all.
For several years I wrote down every bit of dream material I could remember and when one of these replays happened I could go find them in the notes from weeks or months earlier. But besides those none of the other material had any coincidence with real events except the dream world’s language of tokens from life representing emotional/psychic tensions to get worked out. I ain’t seen anyone claim every one of their dreams was precognitive or could tell which ones were precognitive in advance, not me man.
@Carly wants to know how her precognitive dreams might happen. Put your sci-fi or whatever thinking cap on why not instead of being dismissive ? How might it happen?

DominicX's avatar

Well, I had a dream that some kind of apocalyptic thing was happening on April 20th (I really can’t remember exactly what was happening, but it was some kind of disaster or attack), so we’ll see…

SavoirFaire's avatar

@dabbler I’m not denying that you have had “hundreds of several-second-long dream clips that play out later exactly the way they were in the dream moment per moment detail per detail.” I’ve had a few of those myself. I am familiar with the phenomenon. The problem is that merely having such experiences in no way irrefutably demonstrates that there was anything precognitive about them.

Given all the dreams we have, and the fact that the material for them is largely drawn from our own lives, some of them are bound to come true. This is especially true if we are willing to count very old dreams (especially dreams remembered only through notes). As the vast majority of them do not, however, to focus on those that do and point to them as evidence of precognition really does look like confirmation bias.

As for playing the sci-fi game, I really see no reason to play. I’ve already given my theory on how this happens: an interpretation of coincidence.

roundsquare's avatar

@dabbler I think it is contrary to what you said. Time is not curled up into a ball, so you won’t get any looping back happening.

In any event, on trying to figure out why dreams might be predictive, I don’t think anyone can deny the power of confirmation bias. In addition, there is a statistical probability that something your dreams will happen in the future especially given what the brain does at night (i.e. process things happening in your life).

With these two factors (and maybe some other) its hard to say if there is some residual “real” prediction happening or not. It is nearly impossible to quantify things in the necessary way. A few things might help (and @dabbler might be in the best position to go through this since he/she has been keeping track of his/her dreams.
1) How exact was the match?
2) How often does it happen?
3) How long is the overlap?

My guess is that short fairly exact matches will happen fairly frequently (statistically speaking). Most of us live basically the same day over and over again so its no surprise that we can predict things. Also, we probably take in more hints about whats going on than we realize. Our subconscious is an awesome processing machine.

Not that I know what exactly “short”, “fairly exact” or “fairly frequently” mean in this context.

Of course, longer exact predictions probably don’t happen very often so if you are having a lot of those than that is something. @dabbler I know you said you haven’t had these, how about anyone else?

I would probably take even a single 24 hour exact prediction as extremely strong evidence.

leopardgecko123's avatar

Yeah, it’s scary! I’ve never had anything that clear, as far as I can remember, but I’ve had very vague things like that. Like I’ll be in a position or see something that I know I haven’t seen before, but I feel like I have, like it’s familiar. You know what I mean? It’s a little weird, but I know what you mean.
By the way, sorry about your family members that passed away.

dabbler's avatar

The first question @Carly asks gets several affirmative answers.
The second question @Carly poses premises precognitive dreaming happens and asks how it might be possible.
“An interpretation of coincidence” is not theory of how it happens. That response is an idea of why people would say they have precognitive dream experience when they really don’t. Technically off-topic. @bob_ takes an honest road and not follows
Yeah, most dreams aren’t at all precognitve, yep. The question is for the dreams that are left after you sort away the ones are otherwise explained by examining all those great points about dream types that may masquerade as precognitive.
I don’t think I can prove the phenomenon in question exists to someone who hasn’t experienced it. I mean, like, obviously not. And I was sloppy saying I have irrefutable proof, it is to me, I know what happened.

@roundsquare those are great questions. And who knows if time is curled up in a ball or a heap or waving about like a ..string that occasionally encounters itself.

C’mon gang what I said is that’s the best explanation I’ve seen yet, and that still stands.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@dabbler The first question is “Has anything like this happened to you?” where “this” refers to the experience of having a dream and then having it come true. The second question is “Does anyone have a theory as to why/how it happens??” where “it” refers to the same thing as “this.” So yes, “an interpretation of a coincidence” is a proper response. Or perhaps merely “coincidence” would work. My response is not off-topic, especially here in Social.

And you again forget that I have had the experience. I just realize that having a dream come true doesn’t mean the dream was precognitive. I’m sure you believe that yours were, but I sincerely doubt that you know it. Were you surprised when the dreams came true? Do you have any means of separating out your precognitive dreams from your non-precognitive dreams prior to some coming true and others not? If not, then they can all be explained as coincidences. If so, go get yourself scientifically tested. That might convince me.

roundsquare's avatar

@SavoirFaire What, exactly, would convince you? 100 dreams in a row where I exactly dream what happened? 100 dreams in a year? What makes you so confident that it can ALL be explained by coincidence?

Also, what does “scientifically tested” mean? I know of no such test, but that doesn’t mean that science won’t eventually confirm something like this in the future.

But, no, your answers are not off-topic. Although it does seem clear that @Carly assumed there is something more than coincidence at play, I don’t think your answer is off-topic since its often useful to have someone point out a possibility you didn’t think of.

@dabbler Just for fun…
Scientists have yet to figure out the arrow of time puzzle, i.e. why time flows in the direction we call “forward” instead of “backwards.” Quantum mechanics tells us that things happen randomly so maybe sometimes our experience goes the other way. If this is rare, we might be better poised to perceive these things in a dream (where we can experience long periods of time in brief seconds).

The universe as we know it was created by <super-being>. <Super-being> likes to mess with us (or help us or whatever) and therefore gives us occasional glimpses into the future. <Super-being> waits till we are asleep because otherwise it would mess with us because it would drive us insane or make us crash our car or somehow mess with everyday interaction.

Some of us are thicker in the fourth dimension than others. This allows us to perceive things in the future.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@roundsquare While I am confident that this phenomenon is all coincidence, I have not really asserted that above. What I have said is that I have no evidence as of yet that it is not all coincidence. The frequency of the dreams is fairly irrelevant to me. To accept them as precognitive, I’d like to see that someone could separate out which dreams were precognitive from those that weren’t in advance of them coming true.

The test for this is simple. First, keep a dream journal in which the putatively precognitive and putatively non-precognitive dreams are labeled shortly after writing them down. Second, submit this journal each morning to someone who will be observing you during the day. Third, go through the days normally—though under observation—and note when one of the dreams comes true. This event will then be compared with the journal for accuracy and to see whether or not it was one of the labeled dreams. Finally, check your record against the likelihood that the same results could have been achieved by chance.

If people are really having precognitive dreams, there should be some way of verifying it. So let’s give it a try.

dabbler's avatar

@roundsquare now we’re talkin’ ! that’s as viable as anything else out there for ‘explaining’ the phenomenon. @SavoirFaire sounds like a fascinating experiment. Notice though that I dn’t hink anyone in the thread has claimed they could tell ahead of time what dream sequences would play out in the future, that would be an extraordinary skill for sure. We’ve claimed that we recognize the precognitive dream material later when it did play out. The journalling you suggest would help establish either.

roundsquare's avatar

@SavoirFaire I agree with @dabbler. I don’t see why it should be important that we can separate out precognitive dreams from regular ones. What if someone did the journal experiment but without marking which ones he thought were precognitive and half of them came true with incredible accuracy. That wouldn’t convince you?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@dabbler @roundsquare You asked for an experiment that would convince me, and I gave you one. I see no point in calling a dream precognitive if you have no idea it will come true until after it does so. Moreover, there is no way of separating out the coincidences from the genuine cases if we allow that sort of thing. Thus we wouldn’t have anything approaching scientific evidence.

I could easily write down a whole bunch of stuff that might not happen in the future right now. If you allow me to choose after the fact which one’s were predictions and which ones were just me writing random sentences, no reasonable person would take me as having demonstrated precognitive abilities.

There are a lot of unreasonable people in the world, however, so I could probably make an awful lot of money doing exactly this.

And as for someone who had lots of dreams come true, but lacked any further evidence of precognitive abilities, I would need to know the content of the dreams. If they’re about commonplace occurrences, I’d probably just think the person was very boring. If the events were not commonplace, I might be more persuadable. Importantly, however, being persuaded is not the same thing as having scientific evidence that something is true. I was asked for a scientific experiment, and so that is what I presented.

And even that could probably be improved.

dabbler's avatar

well, actually I never asked what would convince convince you, but I think @roundsquare a sport for asking. The suggestions for proof are very reasonable and I’d love to see the research. I was asking for speculations about how the phenomenon works.
The situation is like we’re folks from a millennium ago and some of us see a lightning strike and they’re very rare. We got no science and have no idea what it was, but it was remarkable and we’ll tell you all we know about it. Someone who didn’t see it could be wondering why we’re talking crazy shit – a reasonable approach. Those who saw it are wondering what it was.
This caveman enjoys to discuss what was that lightning bolt, maybe a dragon fart? Did zeus drop a flintstone? how about string theory? You might convince me there was no dragon but you won’t convince me that fart thing never happen.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@dabbler That response was for both you and @roundsquare. Since @roundsquare did ask what would convince me, that part of my response seems relevant. Anyway, I’m not trying to convince you that you never have dreams that come true. I’m just pointing out that there is no evidence they were precognitive. Nothing about that is contrary to your lightning analogy.

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